One of the challenges of traveling in a new area is finding good places to eat. On a recent trip to Cape Cod, we were tired, hungry and in need of the kind of comfort you find in a great family restaurant that serves home made pasta at a reasonable price. That’s exactly what we found at La Cucina Sul Mare Italian Ristorante (Kitchen by the Sea) in Falmouth, MA.
Nestled in the heart of cute-as-a-button Falmouth village, La Cucina Sul Mare is warm and welcoming. Dark woods, including a long wooden bar and wooden tables colorfully painted with flowers, dominate the interior. The walls are festooned with richly painted murals; the high ceilings covered in tin; and large picture windows overlooking Main Street keep the whole place light and bright. Even on a weeknight, La Cucina was busy and though we didn’t have reservations, hostess-owner Cynthia Cilfone quickly escorted us to a table for two.
Cynthia and chef-husband Mark have owned the restaurant since 2002. They met while working in restaurants in Florida and, after moving their family of three to Falmouth to be closer to extended family, they opened La Cucina Sul Mare. The restaurant was a hit and, as they say, the rest is delicious history.
La Cucina focuses on authentic foods of Italy and the Mediterranean. The menu is divided into fresh pastas, fish, chicken, veal and other meats. They offer classic dishes such as lasagna al forno, braised lamb shanks, osso buco, lobster fra diavolo over linguine, zuppa de pesce, rigotoni a la vodka, chicken Parmesan and veal piccata as well as nightly specials. Everything, including desserts, is made in-house.
We started our meal with chewy Italian bread served with good quality olive oil for dipping and a paste of sweet, roasted garlic.
Delicate Sauces, Large Portions
I ordered chicken Parmesan, two large, moist pieces of chicken, pounded thin and lightly breaded and fried crisp ($22). The chicken was dressed in a delicate, tomatoey pomodoro sauce and topped with melted mozzarella. It came atop a mound of perfectly al dente linguine. This was a dish so satisfying and comforting I couldn’t stop eating it.
My dining companion ordered the three-cheese ravioli and was equally happy with her dish ($18). The big ravioli were tender and stuffed with a tasty combination of three cheeses and topped with a slightly sweet, fresh-tasting pomodoro sauce.
Both our entrée portions were huge and we ended up taking leftovers for lunch the following day. Of course, that didn’t stop us from ordering dessert. Desserts are made in-house and include choices like flourless chocolate torte, ricotta pie, carrot cake, tiramisu, cannoli, key lime pie, spumoni, vanilla crème brulee, chocolate mousse, and espresso gelato and raspberry sorbet. They also offer dessert specials and, since it was fall, the special was a pumpkin cheesecake, which we ordered. Unfortunately, the cheesecake was too intensely pumpkin flavored, which made it almost savory instead of sweet, and the texture wasn’t silky enough for our taste. Next time, I’m ordering the tiramisu or the espresso gelato.
Real Bottom Line: If you’re looking for an authentic, from-scratch Italian-Mediterranean restaurant, look no further than La Cucina Sul Mare in Falmouth, MA. The service is attentive and the restaurant’s ambiance is comfortable. The menu choices are many and include Italian-Mediterranean classics. And the portions are huge and delicious at a reasonable price. What more could you want? We know we’ll be back. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor; Photos Anne Weaver, RFT Editor